Not that we needed to hear yet another reason to bring troops home from Afghanistan now, but new statistics on heroin use and soldier deaths involving heroin reported by the Army are indeed more reasons to /war now:
* Eight U.S. soldiers died of overdoses involving heroin, morphine or other opiates in 2010-11. The totals for the two years are double the number that the DoD reported as drug-related deaths in Afghanistan for the last decade. [Emphasis mine.]
* 56 soldiers, including the eight, were investigated for using, possessing or selling the drugs. However, broader drug use statistics released by the Army earlier this year reporting nearly 70,000 drug offenses by roughly 36,000 soldiers between 2006-11. The number increased from about 9,400 in 2010 to about 11,200 in 2011.
* The Taliban are believed to be stockpiling opium to finance their activities, U.N. reported. Afghanistan's poppy fields now provide up to 90 percent of the world’s opium.
In one overdose case, a member of the Kentucky National Guard was found dead of “acute heroin toxicity” at his Afghanistan base after a soldier, also in the Kentucky Guard, bought heroin from a civilian contractor and used it with him. [Emphasis mine.]The report found that he also had morphine and codeine in his system.
I suppose the heroin-dealing civilian contractor had immunity from prosecution for that, too.
Others more often involved soldiers who were found dead and were later determined to have taken a mix of prescription and other opiate drugs.
The nonlethal cases range from a soldier failing a random drug test to more organized abuse.
In one case, seven members of the 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, were found to have smoked hashish and/or ingested heroin numerous times, including some bought from members of the Afghan army and police. The investigation found that one other brigade soldier acted as a lookout while others used the drugs.
Army officials also say that "CID has quarterly drug statistics that show that drug use by troops in Afghanistan is not greater than that of troops in installations back in the United States and there is less of a variance in drugs used by troops in Afghanistan."
I'd like to see those statistics, because I hope that the Army is not putting stats for pot smoking by troops in the same category as heroin use. That would be ridiculous. But, we are talking about the military, so...